Michelin-starred chef’s simple recipe for great Chinese food at home

Andrew Wong says anyone can cook salt and pepper Cantonese chicken

CHEF Andrew Wong serves some of the finest Chinese food in Europe at his Michelin-starred A Wong restaurant in London.

Beautifully plated dishes, rather than traditional platters, show just how far Chinese restaurants have evolved in the city since his parents owned an establishment on the same site when he was growing up in the 1980s. The Westernised versions of Cantonese classics have been replaced by cooking that is modern and innovative, yet respects regional cuisines and honours tradition.

Right now, the restaurant is closed because of the coronavirus lockdown, so you are going to have to wait if you want to try his £108 (RM585) Taste of China menu, featuring dishes such as Chengdu street tofu, soy chilli, peanuts, preserved vegetables; braised abalone, shiitake mushroom, sea cucumber and abalone butter; and soy chicken with ginger oil and Oscietra caviar wrap.

Right now, the restaurant is closed because of the coronavirus lockdown (Source: A Wong)

But he has offered Bloomberg readers a simple recipe using everyday ingredients for a delicious dish: Salt and pepper Cantonese chicken.

I tried it at home reasonably successfully, which indicates that it is close to idiot-proof.

(Though I did manage to forget one ingredient — sesame seeds — and you should slice open a chicken cube to be sure it isn’t pink before serving.)

Wong says the flavour profile is common to many Chinese dishes, so it evokes memories for the diner. The origins might lie in Sichuan, but it’s also a favourite of Hong Kong cooks.

He says the baking powder and cornflour help to break down the protein and absorb flavours, for moistness and a velvety texture.

I’ve seen much more complex recipes online, some featuring dry sherry. Wong laughs at this and says chefs in the UK sometimes used sherry years ago because they couldn’t obtain Chinese rice wine, which is now available in supermarkets.

He says it is fine to add a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine toward the end of cooking if you like. Even without it, I found this dish delicious. — Bloomberg

  • Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg

Salt and Pepper Cantonese Chicken

Ingredients

For marinade

  • 200g (7 ounces) of cubed chicken breast 5g soy sauce
  • 2g baking powder
  • 10g water

For cooking

  • Cornflour
  • One sliced, mild red chilli
  • Two teaspoons of crushed garlic
  • One spring onion, cut into 1cm (0.4 inch) cross sections
  • Salt and pepper to taste (but be generous) Chilli flakes (optional)

For garnish

  • Sesame seeds Sesame oil

Preparation

  • Marinate the chicken overnight. (It helps if you massage the liquid into the chicken for two minutes at the start.)
  • The next day, coat the meat in cornflour.
  • Fry on high for about four minutes until crisp. (Best with vegetable oil; I used sesame oil, which Wong said was wrong.)
  • In another heated pan, fry the chilli and garlic on high for a minute.
  • Add the chicken and spring onion, and cook for another three minutes.
  • Season with fine salt and lots of black pepper — about half a teaspoon of each — plus chilli flakes if required.
  • Serve in a dish and sprinkle sesame seeds and half a teaspoon of sesame oil on top.